Shibam, a town in Yemen, is considered to have the world’s oldest skyscrapers. It has about 7,000 inhabitants and all of the town’s houses are made out of mud bricks. Some of these houses rise 5 to 9 stories high. It protected residents from Bedouin attacks. While Shibam has existed for around 2,000 years, most of the city’s houses come mainly from the 16th century. Shibam is often called “the Manhattan of the desert”.
On May 11, 1976, President Ford signed the National Science and Technology Policy, Organization and Priorities Act of 1976. First proposed in June 1975, this legislation established the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
This May 8 decision memo from James Cannon to the President outlines the main provisions of the bill. In addition to designating the director of the OSTP as the President’s adviser on science and technology this legislation also called for an intensive study of the way the government utilized science and technology to solve problems. From President Ford’s remarks:
“Those of us here today share a very strong view that science and engineering and technology can and must continue to make great contributions to the achievement of our goals.”
-from the Ford Library
This week’s From the Secretary blog post has John Churchill lamenting the glorification of ignorance in today’s media and society. His remedy? More collaborative discourse and contemplation.
It was Charles Evans Hughes, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1930-1941, who explained, at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Alpha of Rhode Island chapter at Brown University, that Phi Beta Kappa’s celebration of liberal education “signifies freedom from the tyranny of ignorance and, from what is worse, the dominion of folly.” Hughes went on to say that mere learning is not the aim we seek and honor, “so much as intelligence served by learning.” Right on, old boy! (If I may?)
“60% of the time, it works every time.” -Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
In this week’s From the Secretary blog post, John Churchill asks us to take a closer look at what he calls “bogus precision”.
You overhear things. Not so long ago, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I overheard a guy telling his companion, as we bypassed each other on the sidewalk: “My cousin is a veterinarian in Melbourne, Australia.” OK. Why was that worth conveying? What context gave it relevance? A while back in a pancake house in Little Rock, I overheard a man telling his fellow breakfasters: “I live in Oklahoma! The house is in Oklahoma! The State of Tennessee can kiss my ass!” A tax dispute, I’m guessing.
Minimal Posters - Five Great Mathematicians And Their Contributions.
These posters are great from a design perspective, but pretty weak from a content perspective. You can’t mention Newton and calculus without paying tribute to Leibniz. It’s not even known if Pythagoras actually did mathematics (see Wikipedia), so I wouldn’t put him in the same breath as Euler and Euclid. Not to mention the fact that the Pythagorean Theorem is definitely not the “cornerstone of trigonometry”.
I’ve seen this reblogged a lot, which is definitely cool. I commend the designers for popularizing these mathematicians, but it shouldn’t have to come at the expense of accuracy.
Do we forget that reading is an activity aimed to work out the mind like any other exercise? Has technology hindered our critical reading skills?
In this week’s From the Secretary blog post, “In Praise of Hard Reading,” John Churchill reminds us of the necessity of “hard reading” to increase our understanding and critical thinking.
Do you see a threat in “easy reading” techniques?
“…throw down your arms, ye Villians, ye Rebels…”
From the Massachusetts State Papers from 1775 - 1787, in the Papers of the Continental Congress
The Revolutionary War’s first battle—reported firsthand
John Robins (under the command of Captain John Parker) gave this account of the battle of Lexington, Massachusetts from April 19, 1775. Robins supports his commander’s account reporting that the militia began dispersing when they were fired upon by a thousand of the King’s troops being led by three mounted officers. Robins was wounded in the action. This deposition, which was delivered to the Massachusetts Assembly and later forwarded to the Continental Congress, presents the American perception of the battle.
Here I was with a doctorate from Columbia, and Emma Goldman had never been mentioned in any of my classes, and none of her writings had ever appeared on my reading lists, and it’s just that I vaguely remembered reading a chapter about her in a old book called Critics and Crusaders.
Then I was at some conference in Pennsylvania and sometimes at conferences you run into interesting people. I ran into this guy, Richard Drinnon, a remarkable historian. Drinnon told me he had written a biography of Emma Goldman: Rebel in Paradise. So I went to it, and read it, and it just astonished me. Keep reading.